Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in floristry, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with self-taught flower artisan and flower grower, Linda Crew, founder at Woodchurch Cottage Flowers, a flower farm based in Woodchurch, Ashford, Kent, England.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to where you are today
I’ve been growing seasonal cottage flowers for many years. I originally started 17 years ago selling sweet peas at the garden gate to help towards my little girls Montessori school fees. I was soon selling out and so offered small bunches of other cottage garden flowers. With a family, job and smallholding to juggle, it wasn’t until 2020 that I had the opportunity to realise my passion and become a full time flower farmer.
Expanding my business and offering many more cottage garden varieties to my lovely customers who came back time and time again. I channel my creative energies into making beautiful bouquets and arrangements using flowers I have sown and raised to a high quality and adding the essence of nature gathered from our hedgerows and fields, to give the individual and unique feel of a country bouquet. I haven't had any formal training as florist, my arrangements come from the heart.
What motivates you to do what you do each day?
Having the best job in the world! What could be better than the joy of working with flowers that you have grown yourself. Being out early in the morning, cutting for orders, being with nature and supporting so much wildlife and insects, beautiful butterflies and busy bees. They absolutely love our flowers grown to organic principles.
Describe your floristry business to us? What makes you stand out? Who are your customers?
We are an artisan florist and flower grower. We grow and sell the most amazing seasonal English flowers. All grown here at our smallholding in Woodchurch in Kent. We are a small flower farm working with nature and the seasons. Our flowers are helping to support the fight against climate change, with no air miles and extremely small carbon footprint. Why would you not want to buy the freshest British Flowers that will support a local business too.
What do you believe has led to the success of your floristry business?
Success....it is about educating as many people as possible to the wonderful and diverse array of flowers available in this country. As people realise this they return again and again to a personal service with a smile and I am rewarded with so many happy faces. It's about bringing back old fashioned values, actually having contact and chats with customers to produce flowers that are so special to that person.
What's been your biggest accomplishment to date as a business owner?
I've got to say being asked to arrange flowers for a special day, be it weddings or funerals where the one to one is all important to turn the event into something extraordinary
What is the hardest thing that comes with being a business owner?
Being a business owner makes you move into areas that probably you haven't been to before. If it was just a case of growing flowers from seed to harvest then that would simplify things but with book keeping, accounts, countless paper work, rules and regulations, producing websites and keeping up with social media and emails, that makes it a whole new ball game.
What are your top 3 tips that you'd give to anyone looking to launch, run and grow a business today?
Well I can't talk for all businesses, but certainty with flower farming you must read and research as much as you can. Planning is all important as often you will be harvesting summer flowers while growing seeds for bi-annuals for next year. We always work with the seasons and think about the next one all the time. Certainly for me being part of the wonderful Flowers From The Farm has been a huge support to me so if there is a chance to a forum this will get you through the tough times.
If there was one thing you could do repeatedly to help your business grow, what would it be?
A lot of my business is through word of mouth but social media and a good website is essential.
What are the tactics you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance?
That a hard one for me as there is always something that needs doing with the flowers, and many jobs just won't wait. So I try to write in my diary to remind me to have the afternoon off.
Who are your favourite entrepreneurs and why?
There a few wonderful talented flower farmer florist out there. Their work with flowers is like watching an artist at work, making fantastic arrangements using colour schemes out of this world. @janeflowerjane and @johnnycrowsgarden are right up there as far as I'm concerned.
Do you have any must not miss business resources (books/ support/social channels etc) that you'd recommend to other entrepreneurs?
I would say join Flowers From The Farm where so many like minded people are happy to share their experience and tips to help or answer any questions.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Growing flowers for a living is really tough at times. Battling with the weather and the pests, plodding about in mud when it's wet and the constant dryness in the summer can sometimes make you wonder what on earth you are doing. But then the other side of it is the excitement of seeing the little shoots braking through the soil, seeing your plants grow and produce wonderful scented flowers, seeing faces light up, smile or even cry with happiness when you hand over those flowers in arrangements. Being with nature being around all the wildlife that you are sustaining, feeling the sun on your back, helping the planet by doing your bit and a hundred and one other things I could mention..... why would I want to do anything else.
Where can people find you and your business? (Please share details of your website/social channels)
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share then email firstname.lastname@example.org, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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